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Westport Students Win Essay Contest On Race Relations

TEAM Westpo finalists (l-r): Ellie Shapiro, second place; Ali Tritschler, third place and Jacob Klegar, first place. Harold Bailey (far left), chair of TEAM Westport and First Selectman Jim Marpe (far right) honored the winners.
TEAM Westpo finalists (l-r): Ellie Shapiro, second place; Ali Tritschler, third place and Jacob Klegar, first place. Harold Bailey (far left), chair of TEAM Westport and First Selectman Jim Marpe (far right) honored the winners. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

WESTPORT, Conn. – Westport students Jacob Klegar, Ellie Shapiro and Ali Tritschler won TEAM Westport’s Teen Diversity Essay Contest, co-sponsored with the Westport Library.

The annual contest is open to high school students who reside in Westport or who attend school in Westport. This year’s contest asked students to consider the state of race relations in the U.S., “both the nature of the problem and the appropriate way to address divisions and inequities in our society.”

First prize and $1,000 winner for the second year in a row was Klegar, a senior at Choate Rosemary Hall. In his essay, Klegar advocated focusing on our nation’s youth, particularly on putting them in “actual diverse environments from a young age.” Klegar also advocated promoting open dialogue among high school and college students to help them understand each other’s opinions.

Second prize and $750 winner was Shapiro, a student at Staples high School. Shapiro’s essay is a personal reflection on her own journey as she has faced the privileges afforded her as a white person living in an affluent community, struggling to understand the realities of African American lives and continually working to acknowledge and combat her own racism.

Third prize and $500 winner was Tritschler, a student at Greens Farms Academy. She described her personal journey toward understanding her own position of privilege, the discrimination experienced by African Americans and the causes of the many demonstrations that have occurred recently protesting police actions.

The prize winners read their essays on Monday at the awards ceremony in the Westport Library McManus room. Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe and Westport Library Director William Harmer honored the winners. Harold Bailey, TEAM Westport’s chair, presented the prizes.

“TEAM Westport and the library co-sponsor this annual contest in order to help focus Westport teenagers on the challenges facing our increasingly diverse society and to encourage them to think seriously about their own potential role in making our society both welcome and value the diversity of its citizens ” said Bailey.

Copies of the winning essays will be posted to the TEAM Westport website .

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